News & Articles

Minister Ebanks at CYDEC 2021: investment in innovation to get to most vulnerable

June 11, 2021
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Read the below coverage on CYDEC’s conference published by Loop Cayman.

Minister of Financial Services and Commerce, and of Investment Innovation, and Social Development, Andre Ebanks, recently announced that the vision of the PACT government is to ensure that investment in innovation makes its way throughout Cayman society, from the most privileged to the most vulnerable.

This statement was made at the fourth annual Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference (CYDEC), hosted virtually by FTS, on June 3. The successful event had 130 registrants.

This year’s theme focused on how digitisation can help Cayman to  preserve and enhance its position as one of the world’s most successful international financial centres, one of the most attractive tourist destinations and one of the most COVID-safe countries both in the global market and locally, for the benefit of Caymanians.

Featured topics included: cryptocurrencies, Cayman’s new digital ID, the pros and cons of digital currency, digitisation of the KYC process and a keynote international speech on the global digital revolution.

The annual conference was brought to the virtual platform following last year’s COVID restrictions. Following 2020’s online success, and the opportunity it creates for international speakers and delegates, CYDEC has remained on-screen for its second year. 

Minister Ebanks launched the event and introduced this year’s theme: Putting Cayman on the digitisation track.

He described the Cayman Islands’ future as extraordinarily bright in this space. Touching on social development, he said: “The overall vision of this government is to ensure that investment in innovation not only assists those who are well-off, but also the most vulnerable in society.”

He also discussed Cayman’s preparedness for technological development. “There are of course global challenges but we are well poised to meet these challenges – as we have done in the past,” he said.

Director of FTS and CYDEC Founder, Paul Byles, was delighted with this year’s turnout. The local economist is passionate about Cayman fully immersing into the digital revolution.

“The purpose is to show how digitisation can help to improve various aspects of our lives. It’s also about putting the Cayman Islands on track; most developed countries have had formal institutional structures in place to foster technological innovation and awareness in this area for years,” said Byles.

Keynote speaker, James Alexander delivered an address about the transition toward an equitable, carbon neutral, nature positive society. The co-founder of #voiceoftheplanet and director at Future Agenda shared his insights as a foresight, strategy and innovation consultant – presenting “Global trends in digitization. How it started, how it’s going.”

Another global perspective was brought by Caribbean Economist, Marla Dukharan. She highlighted that Cayman already has the foundation in place to lead in the area of technology, within both government and the private sector – particularly concerning digital currency services. Listing some of the benefits she said, “Digitising government services means fiscal savings, increased collections of government, and new and improved efficiency in the deployment of public spending.”

Ian Tibbetts, Director of eGovernment, Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development, delivered key insights around Cayman’s proposed digital register and national ID card – planned to go before Parliament in 2021. He took the audience through the concept and its benefits, using the success of Estonia’s similar programme as a case study.

Tibbetts described the government’s digital identity programme as fundamentally empowering people to securely participate in the digital society.” When discussing the initiative’s timeline, he said “the bills and regulations are being drafted for the various consultations with the aim of going to Parliament later this year”.

The international speakers were joined by local industry experts:

Petri Basson, of HASH Consulting and Chairman of the Blockchain Association; Paul Byles, CYDEC Conference Founder and Director of FTS; Oliver Close, Vice President of Active Investments at DART; Justin Fisher, Co-Founder and CEO of Veriblock; Adam Lambert, Managing Director at ZIMTRA; Blair Lilford, Founder of SALT Technology Group; Ian Tibbetts Director of eGovernment, Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development, and Ryan Watson, Vice President of IT at Brave.

Tammi Sulliman, Senior Manager, News & Content at Dart was Master of Ceremonies for the third consecutive year.

Launched in 2018 as the first conference of its kind in the Cayman Islands, CYDEC has become a highly anticipated signature event in Cayman. The first CYDEC event in 2018, inspired Byles to launch the ‘Digital Cayman’ industry body.

The success of this annual event has contributed to the continued growth and development of the digital industry in Cayman.

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Caribbean IFCs: Challenges And Future Prospects In 2021

May 25, 2021
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Please see below article, written by Paul Byles, Director of FTS, for IFCReview.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had the largest negative impact on the world economy in decades and the Caribbean IFCs were no exception. But while the pandemic brought their tourism sectors to a standstill, growth in financial services and the global scrutiny tied to it did not miss a beat.

Three key initiatives continued to present both risk and opportunities to Caribbean IFCs; namely; Financial Action Task Force/Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (FATF/CFATF) mutual evaluations, economic substance, and beneficial ownership. Developments in the digital economy onshore also presents some additional opportunities.

FATF/CFATF – It’s Now About ‘Effectiveness’

The emphasis on all jurisdictions, over the past four to five years in particular, is on how well they have implemented the FATF’s global standards. That means looking at the extent to which each country has an ‘effective’ anti-money laundering (AML) and countering of financing and terrorism regime (CTF). The process includes examining both the jurisdictions’ technical compliance (e.g., examining the laws and formal framework in place) as well as its overall effectiveness (e.g., looking at areas such as enforcement actions taken).

Like many of the mainstream Caribbean IFCs, Bermuda’s most recent Mutual Evaluation report, which was carried out by the CFATF, demonstrated that the jurisdiction was compliant with 39 of the FATF’s 40 recommendations. Key recommendations focused on the need for its industry to improve understanding of suspicious reporting obligations, enhance risk rating methodologies, and adding resources towards beneficial ownership regime in part for monitoring purposes. 

A similar evaluation of The Bahamas in 2017 demonstrated that the jurisdiction was compliant or partially compliant with 39 of the FATF’s 40 Recommendations. Key recommendations were to address gaps in legal provisions in several areas as well as to complete its national risk assessment; address gaps in its targeted financial sanctions; enhance risk-based supervision for certain sectors such as gaming and securities; and improve its administrative arrangements to oversee and monitor the country’s AML/CFT regime. A follow up report in 2018 by the CFATF demonstrated that the Bahamas has significantly improved in many of the areas of recommendations.

The latest follow up for the Cayman Islands demonstrated that the jurisdiction had satisfied 60 of the 63 FATF previously recommended actions and was being compliant or largely compliant with the 39 of the 40 FATF recommendations. Two outstanding areas related to the jurisdiction’s need to improve in the area of sanctions on financial institutions for AML breaches and to demonstrate penalties for those who do not provide accurate, up-to-date beneficial ownership information. The country was placed under increased monitoring until it addresses these two recommendations and is already well on the way to addressing them.

The threat to these Caribbean IFCs and others in the region is that over the past decade and increasingly so, international correspondent banking has become less accessible to jurisdictions which have been publicly identified by global standard setting bodies as having deficiencies in their AML/CFT frameworks. In some cases, the potential negative economic impact of the sheer reputational exposure is greater than the actual risks to their financial sectors due to the deficiencies raised. Reports of poor assessments simply makes it more challenging for institutions based in the respective jurisdiction to do business.

Because of the reputational dynamics, there is a genuine opportunity for jurisdictions which meet the global standards to distinguish themselves as being more credible jurisdictions in which to do business. Irrespective of the legitimate debate surrounding whether these standards are being applied equally across onshore and offshore jurisdictions, this reputational benefit remains.

Economic Substance

Economic substance legislation was forced on IFCs by the European Union over the past three years. The initiative originated in the late 1990s with a focus on EU member states but was eventually extended to so-called 3rd countries such as Caribbean IFCs. The initiative is tax related and its basic purpose is to prevent clients from using structures in the jurisdiction which accrue profits which do not reflect real economic activity carried out in the country.

The EU published a list of non-cooperating countries and several countries were ‘grey listed’, meaning they had made commitments to address the deficiencies in their legislative frameworks within a certain period to avoid being ‘blacklisted’ later.

By early 2019, several Caribbean IFCs including BVI, Bermuda, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands had established economic substance laws in their jurisdictions which impacted their financial services industries.

On the one hand, economic substance presents an opportunity for jurisdictions to benefit from additional ‘bricks and mortar’ presence by international companies, leading to additional government revenues, jobs, and broader economic impact.

But there is also the threat of losing some company incorporations if the requirements are too burdensome which would result in a negative economic impact. Ultimately, the cost benefit analysis and associated economic impact depends on the nature of the entity and circumstances. What can be said thus far is that since the initiative has been rolled out in the various jurisdictions, there has been no obvious or material negative fallout reported. In fact, company registrations continue to grow in most jurisdictions.

There is a real opportunity for jurisdictions to target both existing and new international companies (including, for example, investment managers) to set up a physical presence in IFCs to benefit their domestic economies.

Beneficial Ownership Registries

Under pressure partly from the UK, some  IFCs in the region which are British Overseas Territories have already established a central registry of beneficial ownership of companies. The registers enable law enforcement to access information on the ultimate owners of each company and this information is also accessible by UK law enforcement.

The primary concern before implementation was that public access to the information might signal to legitimate clients that there is no longer financial privacy. While this may still remain a concern, there has been no evidence that jurisdictions have lost business as a result of introducing the registries.

IFCs, FinTech And Digital Currencies

Traditional challenges aside, perhaps the greatest mix of opportunities and threats facing OFCs relates to the digital revolution that has been taking place over the past decade. FinTech, RegTech, and the use of new technologies are taking place at varying pace across both developed and less developed countries. There is a certain sense of inevitability about many of these initiatives; while countries like China and the US are the current leaders, many other countries are being pushed to quickly adapt to the new environment.

The use of FinTech is already on display in many Caribbean IFCs as companies have adopted it as a standard part of their operations. Core banking systems, for example, are now seamlessly incorporating FinTech and RegTech systems where more efficient due diligence, transactions monitoring, and automated reporting are just a few of the value added outputs in the new operating environment.

The opportunities for IFCs in this area are numerous. Not only can they benefit from the efficiency gains by the financial institutions operating within their markets, which fuels growth and more jobs, but the jurisdiction can attract new types of clients in this new era.

Companies in the digital sector value data protection and protection of their ideas and both of these are ideally suited to the IFC environment. Many IFC frameworks have strong data protection plus trademark and patent laws within a generally strict regulatory environment influenced, in large part, by the presence of their financial services sectors.

The wide range of technology companies operating in the Cayman Islands Special Economic Zone is just one example of the models that can be deployed to benefit from the growth in these areas. Bermuda is another example of an IFC that is very receptive to tech companies, being among the first to introduce legislation to facilitate the new sectors.

IFCs’ Future In The Medium Term

As we have seen from the constant global regulatory and tax pressures, despite COVID-19 IFCs will continue to face scrutiny. Whether that scrutiny is ‘fair’ or not, the key focus for IFCs must be to be agile enough to make the adjustments in a way that minimises harm to their economies. The evidence of the past decade offers some robust proof that despite all the changes to the regulatory regimes, much of which was expected to discourage growth of their financial services sectors, IFCs have continued to thrive.

While financial centres both on and offshore will continue to be abused by bad actors, the continued growth, in particular of the main IFCs, demonstrates that they continue to add legitimate value to clients under a strict regulatory framework.

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A closer look at CYDEC in its 4th year

May 14, 2021
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Now in its 4th year, we take a look at the purpose and early achievements of CYDEC-Cayman’s first digital economy conference.

CYDEC was conceived in 2018 by Paul Byles, local economist and financial services expert and director of FTS — the company that organises the event.

“The objective was to find a way to keep the Cayman Islands community abreast of technological development globally and how those changes might impact us. Economies everywhere are increasingly digitized, which is impacting our economic and social lives immensely,” says Byles.

CYDEC is purposely not focused solely on topics such as ‘blockchain’ or ‘cybersecurity’ but about all aspects of digitisation in the economy. This year, for example, the event is taking a closer look at the evolution of national currencies being digitised and what that means for the Cayman Islands. Previous events also looked at the role of technology in healthcare and education.

But Byles, who is also a former Chamber of Commerce president, makes it clear that the event is also not just for members of the business community.

“Digitisation is already impacting our youth, education system and how healthcare is delivered. It’s critical that we are constantly addressing developments impacting all areas of lives,” he adds.

True to its original purpose, the CYDEC event has already led to the creation of Digital Cayman, a new industry body focused on awareness and policy advocacy in the area of technological innovations.

“Digital Cayman was an idea that I presented at the inaugural CYDEC breakfast forum which is a private session we hold the day after the main CYDEC event to discuss policy issues impacting the Cayman Islands. In 2018, I proposed a concept of a new industry body dedicated to digitisation and worked closely with Mr Charlie Kirkconnell of CEC and several other stakeholders to create Digital Cayman. That was a great discussion and we had several local and international speakers and representatives of the Ministry of Financial Services in attendance at that first breakfast forum,” Byles says.

Digital Cayman was legally formed in late 2019 and after a bit of COVID-19 disruption in 2020, is now in the process of sourcing its membership. Byles says he expects the organisation to really hit the ground running later this year as they implement various initiatives focused on education and policy advocacy.

“The purpose is on how digitisation can help to improve the various aspects of our lives. It’s also about putting the Cayman Islands on track; most developed countries have had formal institutional structures in place to foster technological innovation and awareness in this area for years, ” he adds.

This year CYDEC features topics on cryptocurrencies, Cayman’s new digital ID, the pros and cons of a national digital currency, digitisation of the KYC process and a keynote international speaker on the global digital revolution.

Each of these topics will also be accompanied by various panels of experts.

This year’s event is being held virtually and takes place on June 3, from 9am to 12:30pm. Registration is available at www.cydec.ky 

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Local experts combine for key AML training session: Includes updates to Cayman’s anti-money laundering framework over past 12 months

November 6, 2020
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Two of the country’s best-known experts on the Cayman Islands’ anti-money laundering framework have united to offer a refresher training session for the local compliance and risk management industry, Thursday, 25th November, 9am to 12:30pm.

Ms Angele Mele, Founder of RiskPass AML+Compliance Ltd. and Mr Paul Byles, Director of FTS, are former regulators of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) and have worked in the compliance and risk management sector for the past 15 years. This key training session offers the rare opportunity for attendees to learn from both speakers on the various changes to the country’s anti-money laundering regime.

“The purpose of the session is not only to provide an overview of recent legislative and regulatory updates but also to identify the changes that local compliance experts and directors need to incorporate into their existing systems, to be compliant,” Paul Byles, Director of FTS and organiser of the seminar said.  

Ms Mele will present on the topics of ‘Proliferation Financing’ and ‘Extensions to the Risk-based Approach,’ while Mr Byles will address ‘Targeted Financial Sanctions’ and ‘Transaction Monitoring.’ The seminar will be held on the Zoom platform and will include two breakout sessions and an online test. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion.

“We thought it would be timely to hold a session focusing on material updates since late 2019 and outline how these changes can be added into an existing framework,” Ms Mele said.

Mr Byles said that while some local professionals will be aware of the changes, it’s not always the case that they have incorporated necessary updates into their existing systems and procedures.

“Being aware of the changes and getting to the stage where you have fully incorporated them are two very different things,” he said. “The approach taken with this training session is to pinpoint the areas where changes need to be made and explore how these changes can be incorporated. I am hoping this is where we will be able to add value for compliance professionals.”

The session will be carried out via Zoom on Thursday, November 25th, from 9am to 12:30pm. Persons can sign up at www.ftscayman.com./events.

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AML Steering Group highlights significant progress to date

November 3, 2020
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As the Observation Period by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) came to a close on October 23rd, Cayman’s Anti Money Laundering Steering Group (AMLSG) highlighted 10 key milestones which the Cayman Islands has achieved to date. Key highlights include:

  • An updated National AML/CFT Strategy 2019-2022, which was published in September 2019.
  • Targeted AML/CFT risk assessments conducted in 2019 and 2020 which covered; terrorist financing, SIBL Excluded Persons (EPs), the Special Economic Zone, NPOs and the International Financial Centre.
  • Officially forming the Cayman Islands Bureau of Financial Investigations (part of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service).
  • Creation of a new subscription service by the FRA which allows the receipt of sanction notices when they have been issued. 
  • Official AML/CFT supervision of SIBL EPs by CIMA bringing those entities fully into the local AML framework as well as a new division within CIMA focused on AML/CFT supervision.
  • Enhancing the supervision of Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professionals (DNFBPs) including attorneys, accountants and realtors, through additional guidance, sector outreach, risk assessments and onsite inspections.
  • Since October 2019, company directors’ names (including alternate directors) and managing members of limited liability companies (LLC) have been publicly available from the Registrar of Companies. Since October 2020, further information including authorised share capital is also publicly available. Legislation was also updated regarding legal arrangements, formalising a trustee’s AML/CFT/CPF responsibilities and allowing government agencies, law enforcement and competent authorities the mechanism to request information from a trustee.
  • A strategic analysis carried out by the FRA which improved Cayman’s understanding of the risk it faces.

A release from the AMLSG explained that the Cayman Islands is now moving into the next phase of the process, where the FATF will determine whether sufficient progress has been made and the final outcome on that regard will likely be determined in February 2021.
FTS Director Paul Byles says some of the feedback suggesting some of the measures taken have gone too far is reasonable but that the issue is also partly about reputation management which remains important.

“A lot of resources have been deployed by both the private sector and the government to ensure that the jurisdiction meets these standards. And the industry is correct to point to this as a significant burden. But in the end its also important to recognise that these initiatives have a direct impact on the reputation of the jurisdiction and that local financial services providers are negatively impacted if the jurisdiction ends up on the wrong side of any global assessments,” says Byles.

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Cayman Islands Government Welcomes EU Listing Decision

October 6, 2020
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The Cayman Islands Government welcomes the EU’s decision to remove Cayman from its list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

Cayman’s Premier, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin, said the February 2020 listing was in relation to investment funds supervision.

“Cayman responded positively by expanding the scope of our funds regime to ensure that the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, our financial services regulator, has the legal mandate to supervise all Cayman-based investment funds,” he said.

Premier McLaughlin reaffirmed that Cayman remains fully committed to international tax good governance standards, and noted that the EU has joined the OECD in positively recognising Cayman’s tax regime.

In July 2019, the OECD’s Forum on Harmful Tax Practices assessed Cayman’s regime as “not harmful,” the highest-ranking possible.

“We will continue collaborating with the EU, including through broadening our dialogue to topics of mutual interest,” Premier McLaughlin said. “These include green financing and key topics outside of financial services, such as environmental matters and tourism.”

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FTS Cayman Islands Presents COVID-19, AML & Risk Management Webinar

May 27, 2020
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives in numerous ways including in the risk management environment. This disruption has not only occurred by interrupting the ability of risk management and compliance professionals to carry out their duties, but will also have implications for risk management and compliance systems.

To help address this disruption, FTS Cayman Islands is hosting a webinar on COVID-19, AML & Risk Management; covering new FATF COVID-19 AML Guidelines, Cybersecurity risks and updates from the Financial Reporting Authority.

Ms. Kim France, Sanctions Coordinator of the Cayman Financial Reporting Authority will speak on the FRA key updates during  COVID-19 while Mr. Paul Byles, Director of FTS will be presenting on the new FATF COVID-19 AML guidelines.

They will be joined by two Directors from Deloitte, Mr Wayne Green and Ms Alexandra Green who will be discussing specific Cybersecurity risks.

The main presentations will be followed by a panel discussion featuring all the speakers.

“This first webinar aims to help compliance professionals to refocus in the current environment which can be very distracting for effective risk management. Cyber risks, and FATF COVID-19 policy and guidance are highly relevant at this time and those topics along with important updates from the FRA makes for a valuable agenda for much needed compliance training”, said Paul Byles, Director of FTS.

The webinar will take place on Thursday 4 June, 2020, from 9.00am – 11.00am. Registration is KYD$100. To register visit www.ftscayman.com/events.  Deadline for registration is 2 June.

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EU to put Cayman on tax blacklist next week

February 12, 2020
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The European Union is set to place the Cayman Islands on its list of uncooperative countries in tax matters at a European Council session next week. The move comes less than a month after the UK has exited the EU.

According to diplomats, cited by the Financial Times, EU27 ambassadors on Wednesday took a decision to place the Cayman Islands on a list of nine territories that do not effectively cooperate with the European bloc. European finance ministers are set to confirm the decision at a meeting on Tuesday, 18 Feb.

In order to avoid inclusion on the tax blacklist, the Cayman Islands government had agreed last year to address EU concerns over the economic substance of collective investment vehicles before the end of 2019.

The Legislative Assembly passed amendments to the Mutual Funds Law and a new Private Funds Law reforming the registration, administration and supervision of funds at the end of January 2020. Whether the delay in passing the legislation has caused the move is not clear.

According to unnamed officials quoted by the Financial Times, the Cayman Islands “did not pass legislation that adequately addressed concerns about companies who claim tax advantages but do not have a sufficient economic presence on the island”.

An EU official said the Cayman law was found to be “deficient”.

Given that EU finance ministers are expected to make the final decision next week, the Cayman Islands government said it has not received official confirmation of a blacklisting.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the government said, “We believe that we have introduced the appropriate legislative changes to enhance our regulatory framework, in line with the EU’s requests.

“Over the past two years, the Cayman Islands Government has adopted a number of fundamental legislative changes to enhance tax transparency and cooperation with the EU, fully delivering on our commitment to strengthen our regulatory regime and addressing the concerns reflected in the EU Council conclusions of 12 March 2019. The Cayman Islands Government has offered to make itself available for further dialogue or clarification with the Commission and the EU Ministers of Finance,” the statement said.

The EU is targeting Cayman and two other British Overseas Territories – Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands – as well as the Bahamas for enabling structures that attract profits without having corresponding economic activity locally.

In response, all four territories introduced domestic legislation that requires certain companies, which want to take advantage of the zero- or low-tax regimes in these jurisdictions, to demonstrate they have a sufficient level of management, staff, offices or expenditures in the territories.

Cayman adopted the International Tax Cooperation (Economic Substance) Law in December 2018. In March 2019, the EU Council said Cayman, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands committed to addressing the concerns relating to economic substance in the area of collective investment funds. While the three jurisdictions had engaged in a positive dialogue with the EU Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation and have remained cooperative, the EU Council said at the time, they will “require further technical guidance” and “were granted until end [of] 2019 to adapt their legislation”.

Bermuda was briefly blacklisted and then removed from the list last year after the territory passed additional amendments to its Economic Substance Regulation and thereby resolved an issue highlighted by the EU regarding the wording of core income-generating activities for intellectual property assets.

Paul Byles, director of consulting firm FTS, said the Cayman Islands had done “an extraordinary job” in the area of addressing concerns and perceptions in relation to its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime.

“This blacklisting relates more to tax-competition issues which are susceptible to more discretion by overseas bodies and commercial politics between countries,” Byles said.

He added, “Without reading the analysis that led to the EU blacklisting, it is hard to comment on the tax issues, but it is surprising that Cayman would be blacklisted given the amount of effort and resources we have invested into that area as well.

“If we consider the extent of cross-border cooperation that has been in place for decades, plus the recent legislation on economic substance, as well as beneficial ownership, it is hard to conclude that we belong on such a list.”

The current list of countries that are deemed uncooperative in tax matters exempts EU members. Since the first EU blacklist was published in December 2017, it has been revised 10 times.

Only eight countries are currently blacklisted. Most of them have virtually no financial relations with the EU. They are American Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands and Vanuatu.

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Cayman Enterprise City invests big in Cayman’s tech future

January 21, 2020
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Cayman Enterprise City (CEC), through its technology-focused special economic zone, Cayman Tech City, has announced a five-year founding sponsorship commitment to the Digital Cayman not-for-profit initiative valued at $250,000.

Digital Cayman was first announced at the Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference (CYDEC) on June 20, 2019, following a meeting with government representatives and industry professionals held during CYDEC 2018. The initiative emerged due to a growing demand by the Cayman Islands digital sector for a professional body to represent digital industries and support the Cayman Islands Government with relevant policy and legislation development.

“Our five-year commitment and sponsorship of the Digital Cayman initiative has enabled its recent launch and will ensure the initiative’s longevity,” said CEC’s Chief Executive Officer and Digital Cayman executive board member, Charlie Kirkconnell.

“The CEC mission is to help diversify Cayman’s economy and develop a business community where innovation thrives, so supporting Digital Cayman aligns seamlessly with our goals. We’re excited to help drive this project forward and to further positively impact the Cayman Islands community.”

The industry body was initially conceived by Paul Byles, Digital Cayman executive board member, founder of the CYDEC conference, and director at FTS, and is now being actively facilitated by a steering committee of 15 prominent technology professionals and industry leaders.

“We’re on a mission to strengthen Cayman’s digital sector by advocating for positive policy changes that will encourage the growth of the digital sector while adhering to appropriate standards for risk and reputational management purposes,” explained Byles.

As the voice of the Cayman Islands’ digital sector, cultivating Cayman’s dynamic and innovative digital ecosystem is at the forefront of the Digital Cayman mission. Since its launch, and together with Cayman Tech City, the initiative has already hosted seven public ‘Tech Talks’ events which have welcomed over 225 industry professionals to discuss tech trends.

Topics discussed and actively debated include Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, building tech ecosystems, IT security systems, product development cycles, smart contracts, data protection, and most recently sector advocacy. Digital Cayman plans to officially welcome members into the association later this year.

Chris Wall, Digital Cayman executive board member, explained that to achieve the goals set out by the Digital Cayman initiative, they will actively engage and work with government and regulators in Cayman and across the world to ensure that the Cayman Islands and its people aren’t left behind.

“The digital sector is moving at an absolute rapid pace,” he explained during a recent Radio Cayman interview. “There’s no reason for the Cayman Islands to lag behind. Through Cayman’s growing tech community and through the Digital Cayman initiative, we can be at the absolute forefront of innovation, digital development, and ultimately positive progress.”

To date, CEC has contributed over USD$39,000 in capital for financial support and services to establish the Digital Cayman initiative. This initial expenditure covered everything from legal to brand development and design to marketing services for the launch of the initiative.

CEC’s five-year founding partner sponsorship of Digital Cayman is an annual commitment of USD$50,000 – totalling USD$250,000 over the five-year period.

As part of the commitment, CEC is also providing Digital Cayman with the opportunity to participate in the CEC’s Enterprise Cayman outreach initiatives, which includes internships and school programmes, and will enable the non-profit organisation to provide industry knowledge and expertise directly to Cayman’s youth, up-and-coming digital professionals, and entrepreneurs.

“The attributes that have made the Cayman Islands so enticing to the financial services sector have also attracted some of the world’s top technology entrepreneurs and leading fintech, media, and blockchain businesses to set up a genuine physical presence in the jurisdiction,” said Kirkconnell.

“While CEC is now home to a vibrant community of over 250 global special economic zone companies, 170 of which operate from within Cayman Tech City, Digital Cayman membership is not restricted to the special economic zones; it is open to everyone working in the digital sector who is interested in helping to develop a dynamic technology ecosystem in the Cayman Islands.”

For more information about the Digital Cayman initiative and to register your interest, visit www.digitalcayman.com.

‘Tech Talks’ take place on the second Thursday of each month and members of the public who are working within the Cayman Islands’ technology sector are invited to register their interest by emailing innovate@caymanenterprisecity.com.

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Cayman Islands: CyDEC explores latest trends and the future landscape of the digital economy

June 27, 2019
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The 2nd annual Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference recently welcomed over a hundred delegates to the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa to discuss fintech, blockchain, cryptocurrency, digitization of education, ICO’s and what it all means for the future of Cayman’s digital economy.

Acting Premier Hon. Moses Kirkconnell opened the conference saying Cayman is the jurisdiction of choice for financial services, fintech and digital services and highlighted how the Cayman Islands government is working to keep up with the evolving technology.

Minister of Financial Services, Hon. Tara Rivers touched on the importance of the digital economy to the Cayman Islands and how the Ministry is working to strengthen the jurisdiction in a manner consistent with our reputation as a global leader in financial services.

A day after the announcement of Facebook’s own digital currency, Libra, Justin Fisher, CEO and Co-Founder of VeriBlock gave a fascinating presentation on the pros and cons of this system and how this will allow billions of users to make financial transactions across the globe in a move that could change the worlds banking system.

With the dramatic highs and lows of the cryptocurrency landscape in recent years, Nolan Bauerle, writer and researcher at CoinDesk delved into the current cryptocurrency climate and discussed how far the digital economy has come, finishing on a discussion around AI and how it will impact our lives. 

As the integration of digital technology becomes apparent in our everyday lives, Kwaku Aning, Director at Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking discussed how the digitisation of education practices can both improve and hinder our children’s way of learning as we move from ‘old school’ to ‘new school’ systems.

ICO’s remain an opportunity for international financial centres, such as the Cayman Islands according to Ravi Bahadursingh, Barrister at Chancery Lane Chambers, who explored how these risks can be manged and where this structure is headed in the future.

Expert panels featuring international and local experts focused on how regulators should manage the risks associated with fintech and what the future of the digital economy might look like and how our lives are being ‘disrupted’.

The conference also brought together students from local schools that recently competed in the Dart Minds Inspired “Rover Ruckus” challenge to discuss the importance of this programme in Cayman and demonstrate their fascinating robotic creations.

Conference organiser and Director of FTS, Paul Byles, said, “The speakers for this year’s conference truly captured what the digital economy signifies and how these developments will impact our way of life and the way we do business in the Cayman Islands.” 

Thanks to the support of conference sponsor, Cayman Tech City, ten young students were invited to to attend the conference who had expressed an interest in technology through the CEC “Summer in the City” internship programme.

“With an eye to the future, Cayman Enterprise City is inspiring the next generation to pursue technology-driven careers by connecting students with the experts, supporting forward-looking programs like CyDEC and providing engaging learning opportunities within Cayman’s special economic zones,” explained Kaitlyn Elphinstone, VP Marketing Cayman Enterprise City.

“The second annual Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference was once again a huge success and I am grateful to the speakers, sponsors and delegates who attended without which this conference would not be possible,” said Mr Byles.

CyDEC would like to thank its sponsors Ministry of Financial Services, Ministry of Commerce, Planning & Infrastructure, Tower, EQI, Ministry of Commerce, Cayman Tech City, Veriblock, Health City, Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of District Administration, Tourism & Transport, Digital Cayman, Deloitte, Pinnacle Media and Hurley’s Media.

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